VERDI:  Requiem Mass
Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano; Nina Isakova, mezzo-soprano; Vladimir Ivanovsky, tenor; Ivan Petrov, bass; State Academic Chorus; Moscow Philharmonic Orch/Igor Markevitch, cond.
LOCKED IN THE VAULT REISSUES Vol. 8 (B) (2 CDs)
 

BEETHOVEN:  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37
Arthur Rubinstein, pianist; "Philharmonic-Symphony" Orch/Eugene Ormandy, cond. (New York concert June 27, 1943).
BEETHOVEN:  Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58
Josef Hofmann, pianist; "Philharmonic-Symphony" Orch/Dimitri Mitropoulos, cond. (New York concert Aug. 22, 1943)
MUSIC & ARTS CD 1114 (F) (ADD) TT:  63:54
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Both of these issues are important. In the Hall of Fame of recordings of Verdi's Requiem (the last Schwann/Opus lists almost thirty of them), much interest is on historic performances beginning with the first complete recording, in 1927, from La Scala with Carlo Sabajno conducting a quartet of soloists including a very young Ezio Pinza. Since then notable interpretations have included those of Tullio Serafin (1939, La Scala, again with Pinza plus Maria Caniglia, Beniamino Gigli and Ebe Stignani), three live performances with Arturo Toscanini (1938, 1940 and 1951, the finest of which is the 1940 which boasts Zinka Milanov, Bruna Castagna, Jussi Bjoerling and Nicola Moscona), two by Ferenc Fricsay (1953 with Stader, Dominquez, Carelli and Sardi, and live1960 with Stader, Radev, Krebs and Borg), Victor de Sabata's leisurely account from St. Cecilia (1954 with Schwarzkopf, Dominguez, de Stefano and Siepi) and Carlo Maria Giulini's live 1968 Edinburgh Festival performance. There also is a little-known live 1939 performance with Carl Schuricht and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.  More modern recordings include interpretations by Claudio Abbado, Richard Hickox, Riccardo Muti and Georg Solti.  For sonic quality, most collectors chose the fine performance on Telarc with Robert Shaw and Atlanta forces.

Now, courtesy of LIVR (Locked in the Vault Reissues) we have a performance recorded in the early '50's issued about that time in the U.S. on poor-sounding Parliament LPs. Producers of this CD reissue have been able to find a mint copy of a French Philips LP issue the liner notes for which indicate that this was a landmark recording in Russia as it was a "religious" work.  Of great interest is soprano Galina Vishnevskaya heard very early in her career (she first began to sing at the Bolshoi Opera in 1953), and Ivan Petrov's bass is equally commendable.  The Russian Chorus is strong in male voices and, predictably, Markevitch's interpretation is dynamic to the extreme.  Sound quality is surprisingly good although don't expect the smashing Tuba mirum bass drums of later recordings.  This recording is available on a 2-CD set in two forms: the original "pseudo-stereo" on the LPs, or mono.  I haven't heard the latter, but the "pseudo-stereo" sounds fine considering the vintage..  This is available from Locked in the Vault - http://home.comcast.net/~litvr/

What a pleasure to hear live Beethoven concertos with Rubinstein and Hofmann!  I can still vividly recall a performance of Beethoven's Third with Rubinstein and the Chicago Symphony conducted by DesirČ Defauw (I was very young at the time!).  The only mannerism Rubinstein displayed was about half-way through the last movement after the orchestral interlude where the piano again enters on repeated alternate octaves where he raised his hands very high over the keyboard (4:46 in track 3 on this recording) - just as he always did in performances of Falla's Ritual Fire Dance.  His performance on this 1943 recording is not note perfect.  Ormandy always is a superb accompanist, but the orchestra (presumably the NYP although not so identified) is a bit scrappy.  About a year later, Rubinstein would play this concerto with Toscanini/NBC Symphony, a performance in which soloist and conductor seemed a bit at odds with each other, available on LP, later on CD. Years later Rubinstein would make two complete recordings of all five concertos for RCA, one with Josef Krips conducting, the other with Erich Leinsdorf. Hofmann's Concerto No. 4 from a concert two months after the Rubinstein concert, is a fascinating glimpse into the pianist's style - before the concerto begins, he plays a soft arpeggio (heard at the end of the radio announcement), which he also did on some of his live recital recordings.  He plays Reinecke's elaborate, showy and rather inappropriate cadenzas.  Again, as with Rubinstein, there are a few minor slips, but no question both of these recordings represent the grand style of both pianists.   Technical restorations, by Dimitri Antsos and Graham Newton, are fine. Gary Lemco's CD notes are rather irrelevant giving selective information about the two conductors, lots of  name-dropping and the statement that Mitropoulos told him how he "sat in the viola section...of Mengelberg's Concertgebouw when the Dutchman rehearsed Le Sacre du Printemps."  Never happened.  Mengelberg, although he conducted numerous contemporary scores often in world premieres, never conducted this music although it is said that he (Mengelberg) sat with the orchestra when Pierre Monteux was rehearsing this then-new score.

R.E.B. (December 2002)